Further proof that cats and space go together like Kirk and Spock / io9


Via: io9

In case you had any lingering doubts that cats in space are the best: behold this series of children’s books, written by one Ruthven Todd between 1952 and 58, chronicling the adventures of “Space Cat.”

Ruthven Todd (Pronounced ‘riven’) (1914–1978) was a Scottish poet, artist and novelist, best known as an editor of the works of William Blake, and as a writer of children’s books, including Space Cat.”

Emphasis ours. Because holy crap, talk about a range of interests. Then again, Blake had a thing for cats, himself. Coincidence? Please.

Space Cat and the KittenSpace CatSpace Cat Visits VenusSpace Cat On His WaySpace Cat Meets Mars

The How And Why Wonder Book Of Atomic Energy (With Cool Illustrations)


This 1970 publication for young people is actually pretty good. It’s good for anyone, of any age, who would like to understand the workings of atomic power/energy.

Click on the book above to open a small reader. Clicking on that one will get the full screen view. Just hit escape on your keyboard or tap the arrows at the lower right of the screen to return to the page.

Frank Tinsley: Concept Artist With An Eye On The Future


Frank Tinsley (1899-1965) was a concept artist during a time when the imagination was the only limit. During the late 1940s and through much of the 1950s, Tinsley found a home at Mechanix Illustrated magazine. He wrote and illustrated numerous articles that mused about the future of technology, transportation, strategic military weapons and equipment, and space exploration. Tinsley was a man with a lot of ideas.

When America Bosch Arma Corporation decided to run an advertising campaign to promote their inertial and military guidance systems and space technology, they turned to Frank Tinsley to illustrate their concepts. Below are some his works for the Steps In The Race To Outer Space campaign, with descriptions from the adverts.

Lunar Unicycle - Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958

This 30-foot high Unicycle is designed for preliminary exploration of the moon, once a base camp has been established. It’s entirely constructed of inflated, rubberized fabric, with the exception of strengthening members, hatches and a few other items of equipment. Gyros stabilize and steer the vehicle: electric motors furnish the driving power. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958.

Assembling A Station In Space - Frank Tinsley, November 1958

This imaginative but technically accurate illustration shows a permanent satellite (center) being constructed in orbit around the Earth. It generates its own heat and electricity from solar rays. Basic vegetation (such as algae) for oxygen as well as protein-rich foods are grown in hydroponic tubes in upper level ‘greenhouses.’ – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, November 1958.

Mars Snooper - Frank Tinsley, January 1959

This nuclear-fueled reconnaissance craft is preparing to land on Mars’ outermost satellite, Deimos – 12,000 miles away from the ‘red planet’ (center) and 35 million miles away from Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, January 1959.

Cosmic Butterfly - Frank Tinsley, March 1959

Spreading its wings to absorb the eternal flow of solar energy is the Cosmic Butterfly, a space vehicle of a type first conceived by Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger of Redstone Arsenal. – Illustration Frank Tinsley, March 1959.

Escape In Space - Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960

The space-assembled super satellites of the future will periodically encounter disaster – collision, mechanical failure, military attack, or the long chance of being hit by a meteorite. When this happens, ‘lifeboats’ like the one shown here will bring the crews safely back to Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960.

Breaking A Space Traffic Jam, Frank Tinsley, May 1960

By 1970 our solar system will be filled with expended satellites – whirling aimlessly in space with dead batteries and electronic equipment, their missions long since completed.
As space traffic increases, these derelicts will have to be captured and put out of orbit to keep flight paths clear. For this task, special towboats will be designed and crews trained. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, May 1960.

(adverts via nevsepic.com.ua)

A Trip Into Space With Ace Brave!

Into Space With Ace Brave - Pop-Up book cover illustration by Ron Turner. 1953

Into Space With Ace Brave – Pop-Up book cover illustration by Ron Turner, 1953

Control deck of space ship 'Asteroid'

Control deck of space ship Asteroid

This is the command deck of space ship ‘Asteroid‘ – and YOU are the captain, seated in the center there in front of your impressive array of instruments. I am speaking to you over your personal contact tele-viewer, and you can see my ship ‘The Starider‘ on your forward tele-view. We are midway between Earth and the Moon and we are bound for Mars where we are to meet the deep-space ship, ‘The Aspirant.’

On our journey I’ll share some adventures I’ve had and some things we’ve met, but first let’s review some of the equipment we use in space. Let’s go!

An important piece of equipment we use in space - The Space Suit

An important piece of equipment we use in space – The Space Suit

The Weapons Of Space

The Weapons Of Space

A. The Hydramatic Mark 4 Flame Gun which uses a light hydro-ammonal compound – its lethal range in space is 2000 yards.

B. The Atomatic which fires .20-caliber atomic bullets – the burst from these atomic guns produce spectacular results.

C. The Radiumatic which works on the controlled-fission principle produces a concentrated radiation beam. The Radiumatic is proportionality more effective than weapons A and B and can be converted into an ideal weapon for ground use.

Peril in the Venusian jungle - A rescue operation results in the disintegration of a Terrathon and a safe return of fellow traveler, Professor Devonport.

Peril in the Venusian jungle – A rescue operation results in the disintegration of a Terrathon and a safe return of fellow traveler, Professor Devonport.

Life On Mercury

Life On Mercury

Humans and the Mercurians have become firm friends since the first meeting nine years ago. The Mercurians are referred to as ‘The Iron Men‘ as the outer skin of these strange chaps is a thick tissue with a metallic base, protection against the intense heat.

The canopy and cape worn by the Mercurian on the right are used by them when Mercury makes its nearest approach to the sun, when even they need some extra protection.



The Venusians are an advanced lot. As the ship descended to the planet it was frozen into immobility. A grating metallic voice came over the intercom, ‘Hello men of Earth. Follow me and no harm will come to you. Do as I command!’

Guided to the domed city of Metharon, a meeting was arranged with the elected overlord of Venus, The Imperator. The Imperator disclosed that the Venusians knew all about Earth, had in fact visited in the past, and now monitored Earth’s broadcasts. ‘Go Back to Earth,’ he said, ‘and tell them that whenever they come in peace we shall welcome them but, at the first sign of hostility they will be destroyed, utterly!’

Since then, the Venusians have been treated with the respect they merit.

Crash Landing - Accidents happen. This particular emergency landing occurred on Mars. The rescue team that rushed to the crash site came from the take-off point bringing with them a pressurized hospital tank that saved a life.

Crash Landing – Accidents happen. This particular emergency landing occurred on Mars. The rescue team that rushed to the crash site came from the take-off point bringing with them a pressurized hospital tank that saved a life.

Mars is inhabited by these formidable creatures. They communicate telepathically. The first meeting with them was tense but they are now good friends. They refer to their planet as Alkmenos.

Mission Accomplished

And there is The Aspirant. She’s surrounded by space-suited men and two transport ships are bringing in last-minute supplies. The Aspirant will be the ship used for ‘Operation Deep Space’ – an exploration of the outer planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Much of the credit for the design of The Aspirant should go to the Venusians and Martians. They provided important component designs that helped make the ship into what it is.

Now that the supplies from The Asteroid have been loaded into The Aspirant it’s time to return to Earth. In twenty-four hours The Aspirant will blast off into deep space. One day we’ll be back to tell you — what lies beyond!



Passing the moon on the return to Earth a sinister shape is seen streaking toward the ship – a space pirate! A message is radioed to the moon-based Space Patrol. Furious activity and almost at once, the ships are blasting off the launching ramps. The Asteroid holds the pirates off long enough – here come the Space Patrol!

The End...?

The End…?

Images via The Ron Turner Collection

We Live In The Future – How Do We Measure Up?

Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years (Feb, 1950) - Popular Mechanics

Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years (Feb, 1950) – Popular Mechanics

Seen above is an illustration from the February 1950 issue of Modern Mechanics magazine. It accompanies an article entitled, Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years, written by New York Times science editor, Waldemar Kaempffert. For a reader in the early 21st century, Kaempffert’s predictions might seem amusing, entertaining, fascinating – perhaps even a bit frustrating to those who lament that things should be so much more clean, efficient, and ‘advanced,’ by this stage of human evolution.

Kaempffert foresaw the stall of progress which he predicted and knew exactly who/what should shoulder the blame: the ‘vested interests’ which included, economic(s), tradition, conservatism, labor-union policies and legislation. It seems the only thing he did not mention was the field of science itself. For if scientists and engineers were left alone to create a future Earth, nothing could impede the inevitable reality of Kaempffert’s world.

The article centers on a ‘hypothetical metropolitan suburb’ named, Tottenville, and a couple named the Dobsons. Kaempffert describes how science and technology impact the Dobsons’ lives and lifestyles – and, by extension, the entire planet.

Natural gas and electricity are the primary sources of energy – burning raw coal is a crime. Atomic power is very limited – if used at all. ‘Solar engines’ are only used in areas that allow the ‘sprawl over large surfaces’ – i.e. farmland and deserts. Light metal alloys have replaced steel for building. Plastics also become a primary material for building homes in particular. Homes are built to last for only twenty-five years – ‘Nobody in 2000 sees any sense in building a house that will last a century.’

In fact, impermanence is seen as a very high virtue in Kaempffert’s year 2000. There is no longer a need for household objects like razors or dish washing machines. Due to the work of ‘synthetic chemists’ razors will be replaced with chemical depilatory agents, plastics synthesized from basic raw materials will allow people to dissolve their dishes rather than wash and reuse.

Some of the other miracles Kaempffert envisioned included halting a budding hurricane by spreading oil over the sea and igniting it, supersonic planes that allow a three hour Atlantic crossing, a personal helicopter for every dwelling (manufactured in a fully automated plant owned by the curiously named, Orwell Helicopter Corporation), and, the somewhat humorous idea of rayon underwear bought by chemical factories and converted into candy.

The final paragraph of the article was perhaps the most foreboding for the reader in 1950. Individuality and non-compliance will subject the so-choosing person to communal ridicule – ‘comment’ is the word Kaempffert uses. It’s worth quoting him directly:

Any marked departure from what Joe -Dobson and his fellow citizens wear and eat and how they amuse themselves will arouse comment. If old Mrs. Underwood, who lives around the corner from the Dob-sons and who was born in 1920 insists on sleeping under an old-fashioned comforter instead of an aerogel blanket of glass puffed with air so that it is as light as thistledown, she must expect people to talk about her “queerness.” It is astonishing how easily the great majority of us fall into step with our neighbors. And after all, is the standardization of life to be deplored if we can have a house like Joe Dobson’s, a standardized helicopter, luxurious standardized household appointments, and food that was out of the reach of any Roman emperor?

– emphasis mine

So, here we are in 2013. How do you think we measure up to Kaempffert’s vision? Do we find ourselves in a better place to live in, or do we sadly fall short? Have the ‘vested interests’ served our time well, or have they denied us a world of uniform progress? Have we not sacrificed our individuality enough to allow the creation of a less durable but more efficiently unified whole? It’s not the intent of this post to decide the answers to those questions – that is left to the reader’s personal reflection. This is more like an exercise in contrasts. In the end, it allows us to better see where we are at as a species, compared to where others in another time thought we should be. Of course, humans continue to develop visions of what the future will be like – but can we see something in ourselves that cause us to appreciate the times we now find ourselves in?

To read Waldemar Kaempffert’s entire article click here.